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Mrs. Bush joined by Razia Jan on International Women's Day in March 2016.

3 Leaders Inspiring Us on International Day of the Girl

October 11, 2016 3 minute Read by Natalie Gonnella-Platts

"When women everywhere have access to education, better health care, and growing opportunities, every boy and every girl will know that they have a bright future." - Mrs. Laura Bush

In celebrating International Day of the Girl, here’s a look at three women leaders who have inspired us across our program work, moving the needle forward for girls across the globe:

Razia Jan

Education champion Razia Jan is the founder of the Zabuli Education Center in Afghanistan.  Providing free access to K-12 schooling to girls in Deh’Subz, Razia stands as an enduring advocate for the power of education to bring “positive, peaceful change for current and future generations”. Despite challenges, including threats from the Taliban, for over eight years Razia’s school has thrived, welcoming over 550 students to date. Sharing her story in We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, Razia Jan, and other courageous women like her, are helping to forge a new path for their country: http://www.bushcenter.org/publications/books/we-are-afghan-women-voices-of-hope.html

H.E. Monica Geingos

Leveraging her unique podium as First Lady of the Republic of Namibia and her notable experience in business, Mrs. Monica Geingos is working to build a “conduit for transformation” for marginalized populations in her country. Her efforts include a strong focus on youth empowerment, utilizing entrepreneurial, education, and health-focused programming to forge a path out of poverty for Namibia’s next generation. Recognized as a champion for young women and girls globally, Mrs. Geingos was recently appointed as a UNAIDS Special Advocate, in support of “the newly launched Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free agenda.” Mrs. Geingos joined the First Ladies Initiative at the 2016 Concordia panel. Learn more:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-george-w-bush-institute/the-first-lady-effect_b_12088992.html

Holly Gordon

Co-founder and board chair of Girl Rising, Holly Gordon is committed to driving sustainable change for girls around the world.  With 62 million girls worldwide without access to quality education, Girl Rising aims to “inspire action to get girls into classrooms worldwide” through the positive power of story-telling. A past mentor to the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative Fellowship and a 2015 Presidential Leadership Scholar, Holly talks more about her work to improve the lives of girls across the globe in this interview: http://www.bushcenter.org/publications/articles/2015/03/the-bush-institute-talks-with-holly-gordon-about-empowering-women.html

For more information about the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative programming, please visit the following program pages:


Author

Natalie Gonnella-Platts
Natalie Gonnella-Platts

Natalie Gonnella-Platts serves as the Deputy Director of the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.  In this role, Natalie is responsible for research and programmatic efforts that empower women worldwide to lead in their communities and countries.  The portfolio currently includes the First Ladies Initiative, the Afghan Women’s Project, and the Women’s Initiative Fellowship. Natalie leads the work of the First Ladies Initiative, which aims to enable and support First Ladies from around the world in effectively using their platforms to empower women and children in their countries. 

Natalie studied Communications and International Studies (Peace and Conflict) at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia. She earned an MA in War, Violence and Security studies from the University of Sussex in Brighton, United Kingdom.  Prior to joining the Bush Institute, she held roles in New York City at American International Group (AIG), and in London at ConservativeHome USA, the Legatum Institute, and BBC Worldwide.  She is also a co-founder of Each Inc., a non-profit that seeks to provide innovative technology tools to organizations that care for and protect orphans and vulnerable children globally, and has previously served as a project strategy advisor to Stop the Traffik’s Finance Against Trafficking initiative.

Full Bio